Dear Friends and Parishioners across our parish and beyond,
It is with relief that our island is now Covid free and has been so for over 30 days. However, we live with the concern that it may return, and although most restrictions have been lifted, we recognise that life will not resume exactly as it was pre-lockdown. It is also a joy to be able to open our churches again and worship together, acknowledging that some people amongst us still need to be cautious about mixing socially. For some time yet, we must each chart our own course as we feel comfortable, enabling one another to re-engage with daily life at our own pace. The weeks of social isolation have meant that some people have been able to develop a fuller prayer life, spending more time with God in meditation and Bible reading. This is hugely important for us as Christians as it is through these disciplines that we gain our knowledge and understanding of what God requires of us, collectively and as individuals.
There are three main sources of religious knowledge, the Bible, the Creeds, and our Church traditions – the wisdom handed down through the generations by the faithful. We believe these sources of knowledge are divinely inspired, and so can be trusted, but we also recognise that they have passed through human hands, which can be fallible. For this reason, it is necessary for us, and for each new generation of believers, to consider our beliefs and how they influence our attitudes and behaviour.
In our churches we find many different opinions expressed on a wide range of topics, some trivial others vitally important. Such important topics might be, for example, whether or not we drink alcohol, participate in gambling, how we spend our money, stewardship of the environment and human sexuality. Our Anglican tradition calls us to be faithful to the Bible and to Church traditions using God’s gifts of reason and wisdom which are formed by the Holy Spirit. This means the decisions we make to some of life’s topics are not ‘yes’ or ‘no’, ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ but rather are carefully considered responses based upon the guidance of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives.
For instance, a person who is aware that they are unlikely to be able to stop at one or two alcoholic drinks, may decide to abstain altogether in order to avoid temptation. Or, someone who finds handling money difficult and the call of the gambler too strong, may decide that to defeat that part of their character, the answer is not ever to gamble, not even on something like a church raffle. Our own part is to remember that we don’t know what lies behind choices people make, and not to try to ‘chivvy’ them to change a decision made on grounds of which we may not be aware.
When we fail to give sufficient time and attention to knowing God and understanding the divine will for our lives we risk falling into ignorance. I leave you with three quotes that I have recently come across. I pray that we may all identify far more with the third from Proverbs 3:13 and 14 than from the other two which are anonymous.
- ‘The darkest ignorance is man’s ignorance of God.’
- ‘If some Christians knew as little about their jobs as they do the Bible, they would have to be guided to their work benches every morning.’
- ‘Blessed is the person who finds wisdom, the person who gains understanding, for wisdom is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.’
Every blessing for a safe, healthy and peaceful summer